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WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 2

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

Yesterday, we started our tour of new features added to WordPress in version 3.4.

Today we continue the tour with a look at helpful new features available in version 3.5.

New features added to WordPress 3.5

Released late last year, WordPress 3.5 was the second and final major WordPress release of 2012.

This was the first release to include the new default design Twenty Twelve. It comes with a cool new feature that lets you install plugins you marked as a favorite on WordPress.org directly from your dashboard. However, many bloggers were surprised that the link manager has been removed from the default version of WordPress (though most agree removing this was a good decision).

Let’s take a look at the features.

New feature: Install favorite plugins

Now you can install your favorite plugins directly from your WordPress dashboard.

If you are logged in at WordPress.org, you will see a new option to favorite a plugin. You simply need to click on the link in order to add a plugin to your favorites.

favorite-plugin-1

As you can see, a new link for favorites has been added to the WordPress plugin area.

favorite-plugin-2

After you enter your WordPress.org username, you will see a list of all the plugins you have added as favorites. You can then install your chosen plugin easily.

favorite-plugin-3

Most WordPress users tend to use the same plugins on each of their WordPress websites. In the past, most people would bookmark their favorite plugins or keep a list of useful plugins so that they didn’t forget them. Saving important plugins at WordPress.org will allow you to quickly install frequently used plugins on every website you own very easily.

The way this new feature is set up, you don’t have to log in to your WordPress.org account on your blog, you only need to enter your username. This means you can see which plugins have been marked as favorites by any user on WordPress. You can share your favorites list with friends simply by telling them your username.

Also, if you know the WordPress username a website owner uses, you could enter their username into the plugin area to get a sneaky look into their favorite plugins (though there is no guarantee they are using a certain plugin on any given website).

New feature: Link manager removed

The Link Manager is no longer part of the core WordPress install.

The WordPress link manager, more commonly known as the Blogroll, was once one of the most popular features with bloggers and was used to display links on millions of blog sidebars. Thankfully, WordPress isn’t too sentimental—they know that the link manager is now only used by a small percentage of users.

The removal of the link manager follows the policy to remove non-essential items from the WordPress core to make the default version of WordPress quicker and leave additional functionality to plugins and themes.

links-new

Those who upgrade to WordPress 3.5 will no longer see the link manager in the WordPress menu if you haven’t used it before.

links-old

If you used your blogroll before you upgrade, the links manager will not be removed. It’s only removed on installations where no links were added (i.e. only the default links to WordPress-related websites were in your database). The link manager is available via an official plugin for anyone who wants to add the functionality back to their WordPress website.

New feature: New default design Twenty Twelve

The default design for WordPress has been released with this new version.

Twenty Twelve was originally planned to be part of WordPress 3.4 but was delayed. It was later released in the official WordPress theme directory in between the release of 3.4 and 3.5.

WordPress 3.5 is the first official release that includes this new theme (Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are included, too).

Some WordPress users have voiced their disappointment in Twenty Twelve’s minimal design, however most WordPress designers have been pleased with the evolutionary steps in this new official theme. The theme was clearly made with child themes in mind, and with the inclusion of child themes being introduced six months before, I imagine we are going to see a lot of varied designs being created from this base.

twenty-twelve-screenshot

As before, the design can be modified using the theme customizer. Small differences are apparent—no header image is set by default, and no sidebar is shown if no sidebar widgets are present. In addition to the sidebar widget, the static home page also comes with two widget areas (each takes up 50% of the screen width). This makes creating a corporate-style home page very straightforward.

twenty-twelve-widgets

Like Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve supports post formats. Each of the additional post formats have a different design to distinguish them from other formats.

post-formats

You’ll find that there isn’t much difference in styling between some post formats. There’s a content template for each one, so these designs can easily be changed with just a few small edits.

asides

Twenty Twelve has a responsive design, so it looks the same on any browser and any device. It has beautiful typography too which makes reading a joy. If you know a little coding, you should be able to design some interesting websites using Twenty Twelve.

New feature: New Welcome screen

WordPress have improved the Welcome screen in 3.5.

Previously, the Welcome screen had an introduction and three columns of links.

welcome-screen-old

The new Welcome screen looks much cleaner. The introductory description is gone, as is the description for each section. There are fewer links to choose from, and the link fonts have increased in size too. It’s much easier to use because of these changes.

welcome-screen

New feature: New color picker

Slight improvements have been made to the color picker.

The color picker for the built-in theme customizer has had a small visual improvement. Previously WordPress used the popular color wheel.

color-picker-old

The new color picker looks much more modern. Common colors are displayed at the bottom and there is a new Default button which lets you return to the default color for the property instantly.

color-picker

New feature: Media interface improved

The WordPress media interface has been vastly improved.

The media interface has had a much-needed overhaul. The old Upload/Insert text above your TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor has been replaced with a more prominent Add media button.

media-interface-1

Clicking on the Add media button will bring up the new media interface. The old interface used to appear in an overlay that covered approximately 40% of the page (centered). The new overlay covers around 95% of the page. The same three options are available as before: Upload Files, Media Library and Embed from URL.

The media library not only looks better, it works better too. All items are shown in the center panel, with details of any selected item being shown on the right panel. Previously, items were shown vertically using a list and you had to click a Show link in order to see more details.

You can show all items, items uploaded to the post you are modifying, images, audio, and video. You can enter search terms to filter results, too.

media-interface-2

Multiple items can now be selected at once. Not only can you modify details of uploaded items more quickly, you can now insert multiple images, audio files, and videos directly into posts. This saves you a huge amount of time. The days of bloggers inserting dozens of images into blog posts one by one are over.

media-interface-3

If you select more than one item, you will have the option of inserting them into a post together. You will also see an option to Create a new gallery. In the past, media items were always grouped together with the post or page they were uploaded from. This new system means you can group items together at any time and insert them anywhere you want.

media-interface-4

The new media interface is arguably the most important new feature for WordPress bloggers. Images, videos, and audio are so important to us. The new interface really speeds up the process of inserting these assets into your blog posts.

New feature: XML-RPC enabled by default

XML-RPC is now enabled by default.

XML-RPC needs to be enabled in WordPress so that external applications can connect to WordPress. Historically, this setting has always been disabled by default.

ios-wordpress

When XML-RPC is enabled, WordPress can be used through a host of different mobile applications and you can use third-party blog editors such as Windows Live Writer, BlogDesk and Post2Blog.

New feature: Dashboard now supports all-HiDPI

The WordPress dashboard now supports retina display,

Those who have shiny new high-resolution retina display devices will be pleased to know that the WordPress dashboard is fully compatible with HiDPI.

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Below is a list of some of the other features that were added to WordPress 3.5:

  • improved support for keyboard navigation and screen reading
  • search for comments of a particular status
  • external libraries for scripts such as TinyMCE, SimplePie, jQuery 1.8.2 and jQuery UI have all been updated. Backbone and Underscore have also been added.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.5 can be found in the WordPress codex.

WordPress for the future

Each year the WordPress platform evolves and 2012 was no different. Features such as the theme customizer, live preview, and favorite plugins install option have made using WordPress easier for both beginners and veterans.

Whilst WordPress has moved beyond its humble blogging roots somewhat, it is still the best blogging platform available. The Link Manager has been downgraded, however new features such as inserting multiple media items, Twitter embeds and continued support for micro blogging post formats such as asides, quotes, and links, have ensured that WordPress remains number one in the blogging world.

WordPress have ensured they are keeping up with user habits, too. The Admin interface supports retina display, the new default design is responsive and they continue to improve their mobile applications. In short, WordPress is a mobile-friendly platform.

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the new features introduced to WordPress in 2012. Let us know what your favorite new feature is and why!

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com.

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 1

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

One of the great things about WordPress is that it never stands still. The platform is constantly evolving beyond its blogging roots, with more great features being added every year.

WordPress used to release small updates frequently, but at the end of 2009 they changed this policy. They now aim to release three major updates every year, with small infrequent updates in between to address security issues.

The three major releases in 2011 were 3.1 (February 2011) and 3.2 (July 2011) and 3.3 (December 2011).

Today I’d like to walk you through the new features which were introduced in 2012, in WordPress 3.4 and 3.5.

I’ll be focusing on the features that are most relevant to bloggers and explaining how they can help you.

New features in WordPress 3.4

Released in June, WordPress 3.4 was a solid release that is best remembered for introducing the new theme customizer.

It also included a lot of other great new features such as Twitter embedding, HTML in captions, and flexible header images.

New feature: Live preview

Live preview enables you to preview themes before they are activated on your blog.

Browsing and installing themes and plugins directly from the WordPress admin area is one of WordPress’s greatest strengths. It’s amazing that you can modify your blog so much without even leaving your blog’s Admin area.

In the past, clicking on the Preview link for a theme would load up an overlay which displayed the theme over the current page.

live-preview-old

But the process of browsing WordPress designs changed in WordPress 3.4. In the past, the design was listed with Install and Preview links, and a full description.

Descriptions are now hidden by default, though you can view the description of a theme by clicking on the new Description link. This may seem like a small change, but it made browsing for designs within the Admin area much more user friendly.

live-preview-1

Themes are now previewed on their own dedicated Preview page. The page shows the theme on the right-hand side. On the left side, the theme name, thumbnail, rating and description are shown. To save you from having to click the Back button, themes can now be installed via this new Preview area.

live-preview-2

Once a theme has been installed on your WordPress blog, the Preview option becomes much more useful as it loads up the new theme customizer and lets you see how this design will look on your live website. This enables you to preview the theme using your menus, posts, pages and more.

live-preview-3

Being able to see how themes will look with your existing content has greatly improved the process of installing WordPress designs via your Admin area, and changed the way bloggers choose their themes.

New feature: Theme customizer

This feature allows you to configure your theme via a user-friendly Options area.

The WordPress customizer allows users to configure many different areas of their design, such as the header, background and navigation via a dedicated Options area. Older WordPress themes do not support the customizer but can be modified appropriately with a few simple edits to the theme functions.php file.

The Customize link can be found via the Themes link in the Appearance menu of your WordPress Admin area. Clicking on the link will take you directly to the theme customizer Options area.

theme-customizer-1

The options available to you in the customizer will depend on the theme itself. The default WordPress themes only had five or six different options, however over the last six months we have seen WordPress designers incorporate other options in their designs. Common options include site title and tagline, colors, background image, navigation menus, and whether posts or a static page were displayed on your home page.

theme-customizer-2

One of the reasons the theme customizer was so well received within the WordPress community was because changes can be seen in real time. Whenever you change your site name or adjust some colors, these are reflected in the theme preview. The changes are, however, only applied to your website after you have clicked the Save & Publish button.

theme-customizer-3

The theme customizer has made it possible for beginners to modify how their website looks without editing any templates. It’s very straightforward to use and since the release of WordPress 3.4, many designers have made sure their themes are compatible with it.

New feature: Twitter embedding

Now you can embed Twitter statuses directly into your blog posts and pages by simply entering the Twitter status URL.

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools available to bloggers. In addition to self promotion and networking, many bloggers use Twitter as a source of inspiration for their articles. The new Twitter embedding feature makes quoting Twitter statues simple and removes the need for taking screenshots or installing plugins to display a quote.

For example, simply enter this within your blog post:

https://twitter.com/problogger/status/271764815607898112

The corresponding Twitter status will be displayed:

twitter-embeds

The beauty of this new feature is its simplicity. There are no shortcodes to remember or buttons to click: you simply enter the URL of the Twitter status to embed it.

New feature: HTML in captions

This feature lets you add HTML directly to your image captions.

Captions have always been a great way of describing photographs and images to your readers. Being able to add HTML to captions has improved this considerably as you can now include links to photo credits, relevant articles, and websites directly inside the caption.

html-captions

Those who are using old WordPress themes may find that the new way WordPress adds captions has broken older image captions on your website. Upgrading to a new theme is recommended, though you could fix these issues manually by searching for posts with captions through your WordPress post area and updating the code.

New feature: Improved features for international users

Improved support is now offered for international WordPress users so that many locale-specific configurations can be modified from the core WordPress files.

As a native English speaker, localization is not something I ever have to deal with, so it’s easy to forget that around 44% of all websites are written in a language other than English.

WordPress 3.4 focused heavily on making WordPress more international. Some of the most important new features introduced for non-English users include:

  • Localizing commas: Many Asian and Middle Eastern languages do not use the comma (,). This causes a lot of problems for those users, as WordPress uses the comma as a delimiter for tags, quick edits and bulk edits. From 3.4, the comma can be translated to another character for languages where a comma isn’t used.
  • Translatable spellchecker language: The TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor can now be translated into any language.
  • Specify default time zone: Previously, the default timezone for all WordPress installations was set to GMT. This can now be modified so that the timezone does not have to be adjusted during the installation process.
  • Feed language: The language of your feed can now be set using the bloginfo_rss template tag.
  • Specifying start of week: You can now easily define the day the week starts.

If you don’t blog in English, many of these new features should make it easier for you to use WordPress in your native language.

New feature: Flexible header images

Header images are now responsive.

Custom headers were added to WordPress way back in 2007 (version 2.1). Previously WordPress allowed you to set the width and height of a header image, but all header images which were uploaded had to be cropped to fit these dimensions.

Now all images will resize dynamically to match the width of your header.

With so many people viewing blogs on mobile devices, flexible headers have made it easier for designs to accommodate any resolution. Check out Creating a responsive header in WordPress 3.4 at WebmasterDepot for a complete walkthrough of this new feature.

New feature: Login shortcodes

WordPress now offers more user-friendly login URLs.

WordPress users can log in using www.yoursite.com/wp-login.php and access the Admin area via www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Since version 3.4, you can log in using the more user-friendly URL www.yoursite.com/login. The Admin area can also be viewed by entering www.yoursite.com/admin or www.yoursite.com/dashboard.

There’s no denying that this is a small addition to WordPress, but I always welcome small things like this that make daily tasks such as logging in quicker and easier.

New feature: Comment via the post editor

Comments can now be added via the Post and Page editor pages.

For years the Post editing page has shown all the comments that were left on a post or page. In addition to viewing comments, there is now an option to leave a comment directly on a post from the post editor area. This saves you from having to load up the article in order to leave a comment.

add-comment-post-screen

New feature: Improved touch support

WordPress now offers vastly improved touch support in the user interface.

WordPress aimed to improve site usability on tablet devices such as the Apple iPad and Kindle Fire. Specifically, they added support for drag-and-drop functionality. This allows you to more easily customize the mobile user interface simply by moving things around.

New feature: Child themes added to the theme repository

The official WordPress themes directory now accepts child themes of WordPress themes that are already listed within the directory.

Child themes will be accepted within the theme directory if they can demonstrate sufficient difference from the parent theme to warrant inclusion.

I was particularly pleased with this feature, as it allows designers to take existing designs and modify them for different users. For example, designers will now be able to take a magazine-based theme and make it more blog-orientated, or remove features from designs that are too bloated.

child-themes

The theme installer supports child themes too. The great thing about this is that WordPress will automatically install a child theme’s parent theme if it isn’t already installed.

New feature: Scroll to top of Admin bar

Now, we can scroll to the top of the page by simply clicking the Admin bar.

This simple feature was missed by a lot of bloggers but it’s something that I’ve found myself using every day. Since WordPress 3.4, you can scroll to the top of the page by clicking in the empty area in the Admin bar. Simple but effective!

scroll-to-top

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Since we’re short on space, here are some of the other great features that were added to WordPress 3.4:

  • The dashboard is now ready for high-resolution displays such as Apple’s retina display.
  • Multi-site improvements were made, such as auto-complete for adding new users and an increase in the default upload limit from 10mb to 100mb.
  • The Recent Comments widget had some small improvements.
  • Custom post types can now use the Distraction-free Editing mode (also known as Zen mode).
  • XML-RPC was improved to let WordPress interact with other applications more easily.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.4 can be found in the WordPress codex.

That’s it for WordPress 3.4! Which of these features are you using, and which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments … and don’t miss Part 2 in this series, where I explain the handy new features available in WordPress 3.5.

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com .

Stop Socializing! Auto-Share Social Media Updates and Get Back to Blogging

This guest post is by Fred Perrotta of Tortuga Backpacks.

As a blogger, you should be spending at least 80% of your time creating killer content.

The problem is that that leaves just 20% of your time to split between time-intensive (but important) activities like social networking, ad sales, new product creation, and marketing.

In this post, you’ll learn how to automatically share your blog posts to your social networks.

You’ll set up your system once and then never worry about manually sharing your posts again.

Now you can spend your time connecting with likeminded bloggers, responding to comments, and making money instead of copying and pasting the same update all over the web.

Your new best friend: IFTTT

Your auto-sharing system will use online connections service IFTTT (If This, Then That).

You may have heard of IFTTT from previous stories on Problogger, which showed how to use it for content curation and posting to WordPress by email.

IFTTT (pronounced like “lift” without the “l”) is a service that creates connections between your social networks, RSS feeds, and even email.

With IFTTT, you connect a “trigger” (like a new post in your RSS feed) with an “action” (like posting to Twitter) to create a “recipe”. IFTTT feed trigger

Read on to learn how to use existing IFTTT recipes to automate your social sharing.

Automatically share on Twitter

Use this RSS to Twitter recipe to automatically tweet new blog posts.

Note that you’ll need to customize this template to use your RSS feed.

You can also customize the tweet itself using plain text and “ingredients” like the post title and URL.

IFTT action tweet

Automatically share on Tumblr

IFTTT is even customizable enough to handle Tumblr’s multiple post types.

Use this feed to Tumblr link recipe to share a link to your latest blog post on Tumblr.

Sharing a link, rather than the full post, is good for your SEO and will prevent duplicate content issues.

Run an image-heavy photo blog? Use this RSS to Tumblr photo recipe to create a photo post.

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to customize the body of your Tumblr post, the source URL, and the tags. Even though you’re not posting directly from Tumblr, you can still utilize all of its functionality.

Automatically share on LinkedIn

LinkedIn sharing works much the same way as Twitter and Tumblr.

Use this RSS to LinkedIn recipe to share your next blog post on your LinkedIn profile.

Sharing on LinkedIn is highly recommended for B2B bloggers.

Why you can’t auto-share on Google+ or Pinterest (yet)

Unfortunately, neither Google+ nor Pinterest have a public write API, so IFTTT doesn’t have recipes for posting to either site.

For now, you can post updates manually or skip them altogether. Make your own decision based on the importance of these networks to your business and the relevance of their audiences to your blog.

The problem with Facebook…

Facebook is the hardest network to automate because its EdgeRank algorithm demotes posts made from third-party sites like IFTTT.

That’s right: if you’re not creating your posts on Facebook, your fans probably aren’t seeing them.

Even when you’re posting on Facebook, only 16% of fans see a given post. Don’t let this number slip even lower!

For Facebook, you have two options:

  1. Use Facebook’s new WordPress plugin to create a Facebook link post from within WordPress. You can even tag people and pages from within the widget, which is shown in your sidebar when you’re writing a new post. Since this is an official Facebook plugin, you don’t have to worry about your posts being penalized.
  2. Post to Facebook manually. Yes, this seems to go against the point of this post, but you can set up the rest of your sharing so that this is the only manual post you’ll have to make.

If Facebook drives a significant amount of traffic to your blog, manual posting is worthwhile.

The other advantage is that you can post a picture (with a link in the text) rather than just a link. Pictures are prioritized over links (which the plugin above would create), so more of your fans will see a picture post than a link post.

Darren himself had 18x better results from posting a picture rather than just a link.

Problogger Facebook image post

Have you automated your social sharing yet?

Using the strategies in this post, you can free up most of the time you used to spend sharing every post you published. Even for low-volume blogs, this is huge.

Have you automated your social sharing yet? If so, how are you spending your new free time?

Fred Perrotta is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and a freelance marketing consultant.

Beat Your Fear of Technology, and Grow Your Blog

This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.

As Matt Setter recently pointed out here on ProBlogger, pretty much anyone can set up a blog these days without worrying about technical mumbo-jumbo.

Yet as I learned when I transferred my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, sometimes the technical mambo-jumbo will haunt you regardless, and your choices will be to learn its language, to pay highly for others to handle it, or to give up.

Did you, like me, turn to a free platform such as WordPress.com because you didn’t want to deal with technical set up? Are you holding back on transferring to your own domain because you’re afraid it will cost you a fortune to hire a webmaster, or wear your nerves if you do it on your own? Is WordPress refusing to create space between lines no matter how many times you log in, log out, save?

Fearing the dive into the world of technical activities makes sense.

If every past encounter with technical challenges left you feeling frozen, or was easily resolved by someone else in your office or home, it makes sense that you won’t necessarily feel comfortable in this area just because you’re now a blogger. If you’re not used to dealing with technicalities, fear will show up to remind you you’re doing something new.

Give yourself a pat on the shoulder to congratulate yourself for sailing off to a life of online entrepreneurship, then commit to stepping out of that comfort zone to a place where opportunities await. You must be willing to practice feeling more comfortable in the technical platform on which you base your business.

Here are a few easy ways to do just that.

Count to 10 before asking for help

Asking for help is a valuable skill to posses and can help you a lot in life. You will learn things faster this way, and perhaps save yourself some heartache.

Yet if you’re used to running to someone else any time a technical challenge arises, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to test the waters yourself. Did a keyboard button detach? Is your phone acting crazy when you need to make an important call?

These days, information is more available than ever before. Take a moment to Google the problem, or do a search on YouTube and see if you can find a tutorial. Start with small projects—many times they’ll be easier to resolve than you expect.

Overcoming these problems yourself won’t only save you the money you would have paid the technician, or the time you would have waited for a sibling to come from another city—it will give you proof that you can learn new things. And it will give you courage to keep learning about more aspects of your blogging business—SEO or social marketing, for example.

Take a class

Be it online or off, a class enables you to learn from an expert and get feedback on your work. It will usually involve homework, “obligating” you to face your fear and practice feeling comfortable. You can find classes in colleges and universities, at community learning centers and, of course, online.

Real-world classes usually take place at set times, enabling you to pick the one that best fits your schedule. Alternatively, many online classes allow you to tune in to the lessons’ recordings whenever it’s convenient for you. Some of these provide message boards where you can get feedback, even though you won’t meet your teachers and classmates face to face.

Classes don’t always come with an exam at the end, so don’t be intimidated. Focus on the process and the opportunity to grow beyond your past limits.

Hire a private teacher

If you feel you need more personal support, hire someone to work with you one on one. If it’s a friend or a relative, you can meet at home. If it’s someone from your community, you can meet at your local library. In today’s world, you can hire someone from the other side of the world and make a new, long-distance friend while you’re learning.

If you hire someone to work only with you, it will be easier to share your concerns and discomforts. Make sure to tell your teacher why you’re hiring her or him (for example: you’re a blogger, you want to set up a blog, or you want to make changes to your blog’s design), so that the teacher can provide you with the information you really need.

Hiring a private teacher won’t necessarily be expensive. Email the computer science department in your city’s college to find a student who’s more skilled than you—or hire someone for a quick, $5 session on Fiverr.

Work for a tech support department

Many times, you can get into a tech support department with little or no experience in the area. This is easier to achieve if you find a general customer service department that also provides tech support.

In these departments, there are usually supervisors available for serious technical challenges, while the everyday challenges—those that can be solved relatively easily—are handled by the general staff. The department will usually teach you everything you need to know before you start attending to customers’ needs.

Note that “relatively easily” doesn’t mean it will be easy for you right away. When you go in for your training, it might all sound like Chinese (unless you’re already in China, in which case it might sound like Icelandic). When you go through your first call, you might politely put the customer on hold to get support from your supervisors and fellow employees.

Yet pretty soon you’ll find yourself helping people who are even less tech savvy than you are, and you’ll start to realize you can handle bigger tech projects than you could ever have imagined.

Many tech support positions enable you to work part-time, leaving you plenty of time for your blogging or other, better-paying job. If you find a company that specializes in your niche, working for them could provide you with priceless industry information and connections. Perhaps you can even pitch that company your blogging services after a while, or create some other collaboration between this company and your blog.

Create a learning group … and network while you’re at it

You might think you’re the only one who’s scared, and that others have it easier, but I guarantee you there are many more people—even bloggers—who are just as terrified or uncomfortable as you are at the thought of becoming even a bit tech savvy.

As a group, you can set goals. You can search for information online, look up tutorials on YouTube, consult with one another, and hold each other accountable. You can do all this by yourself, yet if you’re a ProBlogger reader, you know you can’t make it on the blogsphere on your own. Networking is key. Why not create a learning group and invite bloggers in your niche to participate?

You’ll be able to check two goals off your list at once.

Leverage what you’ve learned—and learn even more

Once you know the information, you can use it to grow your business. If you document your process, you’ll be able to know what worked and what didn’t, and what you learned along the way. You’ll also be able to look back and acknowledge how far you’ve travelled along the technical road.

Then, you’ll be able to teach it. Teaching others strengthens your confidence in what you’ve learned and encourages you to keep on learning. Knowing you’ll be sharing your experience or knowledge will give you the courage to keep moving forward.

To leverage what you learned, you don’t have to a class, though you could. You could also create a blog to document your progress and improve your learning process. You’ll attract people just like you, who are interested in the value you can now provide. Heck, maybe they can even teach you a thing or two by commenting on your posts!

Of course, leveraging your knowledge can be as simple as creating one single post and submitting it to a big blog as a guest post. Maybe even the blog you’re reading right now? Facing my fears of technical mumbo jumbo got me published on ProBlogger twice—three times if you count the post you’re reading now.

The result? Not only does Google love me more (aww, Google!), but the feedback I received for the tutorial series I published here earlier this year encourages me to keep challenging myself, and make this technical mumbo jumbo a little more Ayelet-friendly.

If I can do it, you can do it! Do you know any other ways to overcome tech fears? Tell us in the comments.

Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic freelance writer, blogger and screenwriter. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinary joys of life on her travel blog, All Colores. Be sure to stop by and connect with her on Twitter.

The Only SEO Your Blog Posts Need

This guest post is by The Blogger.

Okay, I know you’ve read posts about SEO, PageRank, and other things we bloggers should all know about.

This stuff is helpful, but it has come to overshadow some of blogging’s golden rules, like that original content is king. I doubt this fantastic blogger ever focused on “Search Engine Optimization,” yet her fan page is bigger than yours or mine will ever be.

All you really need to know about SEO are three relatively simple things and how they relate to each other. I’m talking about Keywords, PageRank, and backlinks. In this post, I’d like to explain how these three things come into play when you publish a new blog post. If you learn something by the end of this, post a comment and tell me.

1. Find popular keywords

To discuss keywords, we’ll began after your post is written, but before you hit Publish. I’m not here to tell you how to write posts. Everyone writes in their own beautiful way and you may be onto some new way of writing that is totally revolutionary and perfect on its own.

Keywords do two things, they describe your post and they make it popular. By popular I mean people are search these keywords in Google Search.

So here’s an example: You write a blog post on vacation spots in the Caribbean. Potential keyword phrases include “vacation spots Caribbean,” “cheap Caribbean vacations,” “best places to vacation Caribbean,” and anything else you’d imagine people are currently searching in Google. You need a way of knowing which keyword phrase is best and I’ve got just the tool for you.

The best keyword tool

Good news, you don’t need to imagine because Google lets you know for sure. Head over to the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool and try out some searches. Just plug in some short, two- to four-word phrases and see which are popular.

You have to try out a few searches to get the hang of this thing, so don’t get frustrated if your initial searches produce low results.

The Adwords Keywords Tool is totally amazing. It shows search term volumes and competition levels. Ideally, you want keywords phrases with low competition and ridiculously high search volume. This can be tough. Some phrases, like “cheap car insurance” or “purchase blog hosting,” are already totally bought out. Some phrases that aren’t popular at all are bought out. Weird huh? Google makes too much money.

But you’re not paying a cent here. Hooray!

Here’s an example of how I used the Adwords Tool: I just published a blog post on About Me pages and found “About Me page” to be a good keyword phrase for it. 246,000 people were searching that and competition was low—which is good enough for me! Some phrases get searched as much as 151 million times a month though. Impressive, huh?

Notes: Disregard one word phrases, those won’t help you here. Also disregard the website and category fields as you don’t need them for these searches.

Once you’ve found a good phrase, we’ll work on putting those keywords in your post title.

2. Put the keywords inside your post titles

WordPress.com estimates that 500,000 new posts enter their blogosphere each day. That’s just the .com. Factor in other platforms and we’re talking a couple hundred million.

But about 95% of these posts are mistitled. The post authors slap careless titles on their posts that prevent the posts from ever being found. Why would you want a blog post to not be found?

Now I know I talked about titling posts in my previous post—but I’m not some title guru, okay? Just bear with me.

Titles broken down, again

A blog post title consists of two parts: what you see, and what Google sees. What you see is the actual title! What Google sees is the permalink. You want those keywords you just chose inside the permalink. This tells Google crawlers what your post is all about.

One way to accomplish this on a WordPress blog is by going to Settings—Permalinks in your blog’s admin panel then selecting Post Name. You can also download the Custom Permalinks plugin, which gives you a bit more control.

Either way, take that post you wrote on “vacation places in the Caribbean” and put your keywords in the title right after .com/ or .org/ or .net/ or whatever. Separate them with a dash and be as simple as possible. Google loves simple.

Now, your blog post is keyword-specific. Sure, you can also put those keywords in the post body text itself—if you’re doing it right, they should already be in there! Don’t ever try to trick Google by mistitling posts, that’ll surely get your penalized. The point I’m making though is a lot more people will see your post if the permalink is done right.

3. Build PageRank through links

PageRank is your blog’s, or any webpage’s, relative importance on the web. It is measured by incoming links, which Google sees as “votes” for your content. That’s the simple part. It’s the recursive nature of PageRank that makes it so confusing. (Click through that link for a super-techy Wikipedia post.)

Building your rank

You build PageRank by getting links from websites or blogs that have high PageRanks themselves. Ideally this happens because folks just want to mention you!

What PageRank gives you is much, much more complex though. It allows your blog posts to rank well in Google and usually results in a lot more traffic. Perhaps most importantly opens new doors for how you can make money with a blog.

So of course, people manipulate PageRank. In the bad old days of blogging, you could setup a niche site with three articles on it, get some good backlinks from already-established sites, and your traffic would soar. You’d be on Google’s top ten for whatever Keyword phrase you focused on! Not anymore. Yet backlinks are still very important.

Best PR tips I can give you

So you’ve written your post, you’ve found great keywords to describe it and to put in your permalink, and you’ve titled that bad boy. The post is done.

Here’s what you can do with your blog post to build PageRank effectively:

  • Get it linked from a news site: I was fortunate and got my first blog mentioned in the Huffington Post early on in my blogging career. This brought tons of new folks in, and the link itself was a huge Google-vote for my site.
  • Get your post in link round-ups: Lots of blogs do weekly features where they recommend five or ten article links for their fans. Ask a site manager to get on their round-up and offer the same in return.
  • Use link-text wherever you can: A raw link in a blog post is good for SEO but a link on good anchor text is better.( Anchor text just means the words you place a link on.)
  • Focus on one or two posts: A couple of posts can bring massive traffic that will then view other posts. Instead of getting every article linked, try to get your best two posts linked several times.

PageRank is a bit odd. Once you have it, you don’t need to focus as much on it because your articles should already rank well in Google, and chances are people are linking to your organically. But before you reach this point, it’s work, work, work.

What are your thoughts?

Do you think SEO has gone too far? Do you even bother making SEO tweaks anymore? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The Blogger is a 25 year old guy from New York who answers about 150 blog questions over his first coffee of the day. Read his full story here. You can find him on Twittersubscribe to the club, or ask him a question at his blog and he will answer right away.

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Bloggers

This guest post is by Karol K of YoungPrePro blog.

The advice on how to be “the effective guy” is just so common online that it starts to get boring … You know, reading yet another article on how to be a great blogger and all…

So why not take a different approach and consider the seven habits of highly ineffective bloggers instead?

If you think that it’s a joke, it isn’t. If you look around in the blogosphere I’m sure you’ll find tons of bloggers who fit this description perfectly. In fact, I bet that you’re guilty of one or two of these habits as well (I know I am).

Habit 1. Not proofreading

This is the first sin bloggers make. I know that crafting a nice blog post takes time. You need to do your research, prepare the resources, and finally write the thing using a number of relevant links and keep all the SEO optimizations in mind … there’s really a lot to do.

In all this commotion, it’s easy to overlook one simple thing: proofreading. The fact is that proofreading is one of the most important phases of crafting a blog post. Without it, you’re not using the potential of your post effectively—some readers will simply be discouraged with all the grammatical errors you’ve made.

My advice is this: proofread your posts at least once. In addition, use a plugin like After the Deadline for some extra help (it provides automatic proofreading).

Bonus tip: There’s one more trick I want to share with you. I’ve found that I get much better results when it comes to the quality of my writing if I write a post one day, and then edit and proofread it the next day.

Habit 2. Not networking

Did you know that 80% of your blog’s success depends on the people you know, not on the content you write? You didn’t? That’s because I made that statistic up!

Whatever the stats, I’m sure the benefits of reaching out to your fellow bloggers are pretty clear to you. Building a successful site is always easier if you have someone you can contact for help, or for a joint venture proposition.

Treat your blog like business. The more quality business partners you have the better. Networking in the blogosphere isn’t even difficult. It all starts with a simple email that says hi.

Habit 3. Not using offline blogging tools

These days, I’m all about offline blogging tools. One particular tool, actually. It’s called Windows Live Writer. What’s great about it is that it allows you to create an optimized blog post offline, and then send it to any WordPress blog you want.

Let’s face it: you won’t have internet access at all times. Maybe you’re staying in a cheap hotel, or visiting your family over the weekend, or some other scenario. If you want to be effective, you have to have a way of creating a post even if you’re offline.

I know that the standard way of doing this is through Microsoft Word or some other text processor, but they are not very good at providing WordPress-ready formatting. Windows Live Writer is great in this regard—give it a go.

Habit 4. Not staying on topic

Going off topic makes you highly ineffective. And the reason is that your readers have come to your site to read a very specific piece of information. They’ve seen a headline, or a search engine listing, and clicked on it. Now, if you decide that you want to change the direction mid-post, they’ll simply leave.

Over time, such practice will make you really ineffective at writing about the things you wanted to write about. You’ll always get distracted at some point and talk about other things. This is something you really need to be wary of.

The simple advice is this: if you fail to stay on topic, your readers will get confused and leave.

Habit 5. Not promoting your stuff

Writing and publishing the post is usually only half the job. If you want to make it really popular, good content won’t be enough, you also need to spend a fair amount of time on promotion.

And by promotion I don’t necessarily mean spending money on ads and reaching out to investors. Just a couple of clicks on some social media share buttons might be enough, or sending an email update to your subscribers, or notifying your StumbleUpon friends and contacts, and so on.

Also, this is where your network of contacts comes into play again (mentioned earlier). If you have some friends in the blogosphere, you can let them know whenever you publish something really valuable (your pillar content).

Habit 6. Not writing guest posts

Every website you know of—every single one of them—became popular because of some other website. There’s not one website online that became popular on its own (no, not even Google or Facebook).

The key to success, then, is to get featured on other websites. There are two possibilities here:

  1. The difficult one is to do something remarkable and get mentioned naturally.
  2. The easier one is to write a guest post and offer it for free in exchange for a link.

I really can’t emphasize this enough, but guest blogging is the cheapest and the best way of building your brand online. If you think that you don’t need to do any guest blogging, then you are not utilizing your full potential as a blogger.

Habit 7. Not doing SEO

I know some people say that SEO is dying. Mostly, this attitude is the result of the recent updates like Penguin, which killed a number of legitimate websites and online businesses just because they were building quality (yes, you read this right, quality) backlinks.

This whole situation makes the SEO game a lot harder, but it doesn’t mean that you should leave it completely. The fact is that one thing surely won’t change anytime soon: Google will still remain the main provider of traffic online, and if you want to get a piece of this traffic, you’re going to have to learn how to be up-to-date with the best SEO practices and implement them in your blog.

Make sure to pay attention to the popular SEO blogs and also the official Google webmaster central blog.

Are you guilty?

This concludes my list of 7 habits of highly not effective bloggers. Feel free to tell me what you think, and admit how many of these habitds you’re guilty of. Be honest—I know I’m doing at least two myself!

Karol K. is a freelance writer, and a blogger. If you want to check out what he’s up to, feel free to hit him up on Twitter (@carlosinho).

How to Improve Workflow in a Multi-Author WordPress Blog

This guest post is by Syed Balkhi of WPBeginner.

Running a multi-author blog can become a hassle, especially if you do not have a dedicated content manager for your site.Having run several multi-author blogs myself, I understand the issues you face and decisions you have to make.

If you’re running a multi-author blog, you may have asked yourself questions like, should I give the writer access to my WordPress dashboard? Is it secure? How do I monitor their activities to see they aren’t messing up my website? How do I improve my workflow?

In this article, I will share my personal experience in managing a collaborative WordPress site safely and effectively.

The “t” in “team” is also for “trust”

If you want to improve your workflow, then you will have to give your writers access to your WordPress dashboard. Otherwise, you will find yourself copying and pasting a lot of elements from a Word Document into your WordPress dashboard, attaching images, adding styling elements, and so on.

Fortunately, WordPress comes with numerous user roles with various permission levels.

user capability

If you look at the charts above, the two permission levels that make the most sense for multi-author blogs are Contributor and Author.

The biggest issue with Contributors is that they can’t attach images because they do not have the ability to upload files. Since you want your authors to have the ability to upload and attach images to their articles, you will want to give them Author-level permissions.

The big issue with that is that it gives them the ability to publish posts, delete posts, edit published posts, and so on. While I trust all of my authors, I don’t want things to go live without going through an editorial review. So I don’t want them to have this capability.

The good thing about WordPress is that there is a plugin for just about everything. You can use a popular plugin called Members to modify the capabilities of the Author role. Once you install the plugin, go to Users > Roles and modify the Author role. Your final permissions settings should look something like this:

The roles editor

As you notice, the only abilities we’ve given Authors here are editing posts, reading posts, and uploading files.

Security and monitoring

In the past, I have seen hackers trying brute force attacks through the login page. Because each author’s URL contains their username, they only have to guess the password for an author to get access to your site. What’s worse is if your author has used the same password elsewhere, and the hacker knows this.

To prevent this kind of attack, the first thing you need to do is to limit the number of failed login attempts. This means that after three failed login attempts, the user will be locked out.

The second thing you need to do is make sure that you use the plugin Force Strong Passwords. To monitor users’ activity, you can use plugins like Audit Trail or ThreeWP Activity Monitor.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure that you have a strong WordPress backup solution in place. Of course there are other security measures you can take to protect your site in other ways, but these are the ones that are specific to multi-author blogs.

Improving your workflow

A good editorial workflow can make things a lot easier. The key to a good workflow is communication. I use a plugin called Edit Flow to make things easy for me.

The first step is to define the stages of your workflow. My workflow looks like this:

  • Draft: default auto-saved posts, or any un-assigned posts
  • Pitch: when an author pitches a post idea
  • Assigned: the editor or admin assigns the post idea to a specific author
  • In progress: the author puts the article in this mode so everyone knows that someone is working on it
  • Pending review: once the author finishes the post, they submit it for an editorial review.
  • Ready to publish: once the editorial review is complete, we make the post Ready to publish. From there, I or another admin can take a look at it and schedule it for publication.

This workflow makes the process really easy, especially when we have a lot of writers. This plugin comes with default statuses, but you can always add your custom post statuses.

The best part is that you can sort posts by the custom status. Changing the status is extremely simple.

Custom status

You can also use the Edit Flow plugin to communicate with the author from within your dashboard. This makes the communication part really easy, and prevents you juggling through emails. Also, when assigning posts to a specific author, you can set deadlines in the Editorial Meta Data option.

The plugin also gives you a convenient month-by-month calendar-view of posts. This lets you know if you have a post scheduled for a specific day or not.

Calendar view

A private area just for contributors

Over time I have learned that I don’t have to do everything myself. I can assign tasks to trusted folks in my team. The best way to establish this trust and find out who is the right person for the job is by judging their interest level. Setting up a private area just for your team members can help you determine that.

I recommend that you set up a site with P2 theme and invite your team members and authors there. Password-protect the site, so only logged-in users can see the content. And when an author stands out in this environment, you can promote them to an Editor or another position within your business.

What’s your workflow process? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Feel free to share your tips and tricks for multi-author blogging, too.

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest unofficial WordPress resource site that offers free WordPress videos for beginners as well as comprehensive guides like choosing the best WordPress hosting, speeding up WordPress, and many more how-to’s.

How I Tweaked my WordPress Blog to Rank Better in the Search Engines

This guest post is by Jonathan of NutraSol Natural Center.

As bloggers and website owners, improving our websites is an absolute must, and search engine optimization is important if we want to get more traffic through search engines.

I have been familiar with SEO since before I started my first blog on professional business strategies. I came across it during the research stage when I was trying to learn everything I could about creating a website. Once I was exposed, I was instantly hooked.

What interested me the most about SEO was the challenge of competing with other sites to appear on the first page of Google for my target keywords. It is almost as if SEO gives us esoteric super-powers that are only fully understood by a small community of internet marketers.

After learning enough to get me started, I created some blogs and conducted experiments that allowed me to learn a few tricks on my own.

Using WordPress features for SEO

Not long ago, I started a Spanish blog on home remedies and alternative medicine. It’s not in English—my apologies—but that’s the blog I first implemented this technique on.

When I started it, I had envisioned it as a reference site where people could go and find information on natural remedies, so I decided to have the articles on static pages rather than blog posts. 

I also decided to have the names of the ailments in the page URL. For example, for hypertension, I had the URL http://www.informenatural.com/hipertension/  on a static WordPress page. 

The logic behind this approach was to have a reference page for all the ailments I covered, and people could go there just to get this information. It was going well and traffic was growing little by little, but suddenly, a light bulb switched on in my head. 

I decided to turn my static-page reference site into an online magazine instead, and to feature articles that would encourage social activity where people would be allowed to leave comments. Effectively I wanted to move from a static informational website to a blog.

The problem was that in order for me to do this, I had to turn all the pages I had into posts.

Turning pages into posts without losing links

The site was already two years old and I had backlinks around the web that I didn’t want to lose. But I also knew that I couldn’t have the old pages and the new posts existing together because that would create duplicate content issues for my site with the search engines. Not only that, but all of the pages were in Google’s index and some were ranking in the first page of search results for some of my target keywords.

Now, you may be thinking, “Why didn’t you just give the posts the same URL as the pages?” or “Why didn’t you just use a 301 redirect?” The reason is because I was going to turn all the articles I had into posts, and I didn’t want one post to have a permalink with a specific single keyword term such as Hypertension. I also preferred to have more pages indexed by the search engines anyway.

Hypertension Page

So, I decided to take a different approach. I decided to turn the single keyword terms into categories so that I could keep the same URL structures and can keep all the inbound links my blog had acquired over the years.

I also decided to do this because the single keyword term in the URL could then be used to direct users to other articles that have to do with that term.  For example, www.informenatural.com/hipertension would no longer lead to one article on a static page; it would be the page to go to to find all the posts related to that subject.

Add Category Hypertension

Here’s how I did it

By default, WordPress category pages contain the word “category” in their URLs. For example, informenatural.com/hipertension would be converted to informenatural.com/category/hipertension. 

In order for things to go as planned, I needed to remove the word “category” from the category permalinks. I did this by using a WordPress plugin called WP No Category Base.  Doing this allowed me to maintain the URL and preserve the permalinks in the format I originally had them in.

After doing this, I copied the content from the page to the post, with my keyword terms in the titles and permalinks of the posts.  Then, I deleted the pages.

Hypertension Category Page

This allowed me to maintain my links and transform my static-page site into a blog. I conducted keyword research, found the long-tail terms that I wanted to rank for, and included them in the permalinks of my posts. 

After that, I signed into my Google Webmaster Tools account, and used the Fetch As Google tool to submit the new URLs.

Hypertension Post

Grow your traffic with WordPress

These changes have allowed my traffic to increase tremendously and I predict it will continue to grow with time.

WordPress gives us the flexibility to do many things with our blogs and it allows us to stay organized while we’re at it.  If you find that a post is not ranking well enough for a keyword, you can always do some keyword research to find a better phrase with more searches and change your URL to include that term.

Experiment with your blogs, using WordPress features to your advantage, and you can help your blog grow like never before.

Do you use WordPress features to help your search rank? Share your favorite tip with us in the comments.

Jonathan is the founder of NutraSol Natural Center and LocalRoamer.Com. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and he is currently enrolled in courses to get a degree in Nutrition. Jonathan has designed 2 blogs on natural remedies to educate his customers for his store at Informe Natural and Earth Doctor.

Google Penalizes Copyright Infringers: Are You At Risk?

This guest post is by Shahzad Saeed of TechAndProject.com.

Recently Google announced on its official blog that it will start penalizing sites that are accused of copyright infringement.

The announcement may reduce the content theft around the web, since now it is clear that if a site continuously violates copyright laws, it will lose search rankings and possibly even be removed from Google’s index. On the other hand, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to copy, modify, and share any information from the web. But the problem is that the vast majority of people do not care about copyright. This may now result in legal actions and loss of Google traffic.

How can you avoid Google penalties related to copyright? Here are a few tips.

A quick disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this does not intend to constitute legal advice. It is only the results of my own research.

Reusing content? Get the author’s permission every time

I’ve found many of my articles published on other websites without my permission. Some people assume that there is no copyright infringement if they steal the content, but credit the author’s website. This is incorrect.

Some others assume that the worst thing can happen as a result of copyright infringement is that they will receive take down notice from the author, and then, if they remove the copyrighted material, they will be out of trouble.

Let me talk about my experience. I published an article titled Top 10 deadliest air crashes in the last 10 years on my own blog. At the time, Google brought a nice amount of traffic to that post. But recently, when I Googled the keywords related to that post, I’ve found that it’s no longer listed even in the first ten result. Instead, a ripped post was there. It was republished in an article gallery where users are paid for the content! I’ve found the same article reproduced without my permission on other blogs as well.

Sometimes, it is nice to see that your work has been used by many people around the web, even if they are not crediting you. I don’t care if someone gets paid a small fee for my article; what I worry about is suffering a Google penalty if someone steals my content.

If you plan to copy more than a few words or phrases from someone’s post, ask the original author for permission to republish it. If you copy copyrighted material without getting permission from the author, and crediting the author, your actions will infringe their copyright. If you cannot get the author’s permission, restate the ideas in your own words.

Determine if permission is needed

In some cases, using work without permission is allowed. For criticizing, commenting, and news reporting, short quotations are considered fair use. You can also use material that’s available in the public domain.

Finally, you are allowed to use a brand name on your site under nominative fair use laws. In this case, your usage of the name would not be considered trademark infringement because the use is unlikely to confuse consumers, as you’re merely using it to identify the brand without suggesting affiliation or sponsorship with the brand owner.

An example is Windows7sins.org—a site where free-software enthusiasts criticize the use of proprietary software especially Microsoft Windows.

It is really important to identify what works come under public domain and which don’t. Public domain materials include federal government documents and materials produced before 1923. If material was produced between 1923 and 1978 without a copyright notice it is also considered to be in the public domain.

For a blogger this does not matter much, unless they’re copying material from printed sources, because the web didn’t take off until the late ’90s.

On the flip-side of all this legislation, if you want others to have free use of your work, you can explicitly make it clear that you do not assert any copyright ownership. You can learn more about the public domain here.

Use materials licensed under Creative Commons

As you might know, Creative Commons (cc) enables you to license your own writing, photos, videos, or anything you’ve created for reuse by others, and it’s free. The CC license tells people that your content is available for mixing, copying, and modifying with their own content and creations. It automatically grants third parties permission to use your work.

Creative Commons is not a license that allows the reuse of any work, but it is less restrictive than standard copyright. In order to identify what you can do and can’t do with Creative Commons-licensed material, you should check what type of license the material is available under. Here are the different types of Creative Commons licenses.

  • Attributions: authors specify that the work can be copied if a credit is given to the author like linking to the original article.
  • Derivation: authors specify if the work can be altered or only verbatim copies of the work are allowed to be reused and shared.
  • Commercial or non- commercial licenses: authors specify if the work is allowed to be used for any purpose, or only for non-commercial purposes.
  • Share-alike: authors specify that if the work is reproduced, then the derived work has to use same license (or they may specify that it doesn’t).

Using Creative Commons-licensed content is a good choice, but attributing it properly can be difficult and a bit confusing.

The first rule of thumb of using licensed content is to attribute the creator properly.  Open Attribute is a simple tool I suggest for anyone to copy and paste the correct attribution for any CC-licensed work.

Most bloggers and webmasters use Flickr to find images for their own blogs. Not every picture on Flickr is free to use, though. Some of the Flickr images are “All rights reserved”, so you can’t just copy and use them unless you have got permission explicitly from the owner.

For finding a Creative Commons-licensed images, you can use Google Advanced Image Search. If you are a Flickr fan when it comes to using images for your blog, use the advanced search and limit your results to Flickr or any other specific domain that you are interested in.

WordPress users can use the Flickr pick a picture plugin to find suitable pictures from Flickr.com. Another useful plugin is Free Stock Photos Foter, where users can find free—and freely available—stock photos.

Another important thing to keep in mind is not to hotlink the images that you use. Many people are lazy, and when they upload the picture they just bulk upload it—they might not have given name, title, and tag to each and every picture on their site. If you then hotlink those pictures and do some basic image optimization techniques on your blog, chances are high that you will outrank the source picture—not good if you want to stay on good terms with the image’s owner. So the best practice is to host the image yourself instead of hotlinking it.

Add licensing information on your site

You can see, most of the mainstream websites have some kind of copyright messages on the site. Displaying a copyright message is not necessarily needed to claim your rights over your blog and its content—as soon as you publish an article on your blog, it is automatically copyrighted.

However, a copyright notice can be useful if you need to defend your rights to your blog in court. The following is the common format for displaying copyright.

© [Full Name] and [Blog Name], [Current Year or Year Range]

[Source]

No matter what size a blog is, no blog is secure from content theft. Some bloggers license their blog under creative commons license by arguing the issues of content theft and difficulty in discouraging copying under the (DMCA) Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Some bloggers, like Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.net, encourage readers to copy their content to their own blogs any way they need—even without attribution.

If you own a blog licensed under Creative Commons, it’s a good idea to use WordPress plugin called Creative Commons Configurator. This adds your CC license near the footer of your posts, and in the head of your blog. This will be visible only to robots, but ensures your approach to copyright is clear to all—including Google, which means you should avoid their penalties when others reuse your content.

My advice? License images and videos under CC, but not the text of your blog if you don’t want your blog get penalized by Google. But what about you? Do you protect your copyright, or license your content for others to use? Tell us how you do it in the comments.

Shahzad Saeed blogs on TechAndProject.com where he talks about Technology for students. If you want to learn web designing either to become a freelancer or to be an employee feel free to read his article series on web coding.